High schools can do a better job preparing students for adult life

We’ve all heard time and time again about how great school is for us.

I’m not saying they’re wrong, but they’re certainly missing a big piece of the puzzle, and that’s how well we adapt to so-called “real life” after graduating.

The phrase “adulting” is thrown around pretty frequently nowadays, usually in the context of young adults struggling to function in society.

It’s the topic of countless memes, Tweets and Tumblr posts, all because the people creating these have seen the way their parents function and then, reflecting on themselves, find their personal functioning leaving something to be desired.

I could be biased, coming from a decently small school that cuts at least one program or teaching position each year, but my high school in no way prepared me for “adulting.”

We didn’t have any home economics classes or basic skills classes.

Sure, there was “Kitchen Chemistry,” but that just led to forgetful students making stir fry out of some old broccoli they found in the fridge. We didn’t actually learn how to cook anything; we were simply left to our own terrifyingly naïve devices.

And OK, for a while, there was a class called “Life Skills,” but it wasn’t required (so it was only taken as a last resort), and from what I heard, it was in no way helpful.

Fine, we were required to take economics senior year, and the final project was a budget plan.

However, this budget was so unrealistic – think having a cap on your “income,” being forced to rent an apartment without any roommates, and being told you have to take a road trip to Florida even though you’re already broke – that it didn’t teach us anything but resentment.

Are you telling me that in real life, my parents are going to kick me out of the house with nothing but the clothes on my back? I don’t think so.

We had a few slightly relevant classes, but these were nowhere near sufficient, nor were they emphasized as much as
core subjects like biology and algebra.

You’re really telling me that it’s more important to know the quadratic formula than how to write a check? That it doesn’t matter if I don’t know anything about taxes as long as I can proudly tell everyone that “the mitochondria is the powerhouse of the cell?”

That’s right, everyone, I do not know how to write a check and I don’t know anything about taxes. Thank you, high school.

It’s funny, though, how I distinctly remember a time back in elementary school when our homework involved filling out pretend checks. Sure, it was to practice our cursive, but we were still writing checks.

Why didn’t that carry over to our later studies?

Why wasn’t there some kind of required class senior year that made sure we could actually survive in the real world if, for some reason, our parents did kick us out without warning?

Don’t get me wrong, I can see the value in having to do a 15-hour project, write a 10-page research paper and then give a lengthy, memorized speech in front of your class (I can’t tell if I’m being sarcastic or not as I write this).

However, if given the choice, I definitely would have preferred something that carries over to life beyond school.

I realize there’s no easy solution to this, because let’s face it, my school doesn’t have the money, nor do probably most other schools in the country, and money is unfortunately a big factor in these kinds of situations.

I think there’s still a way around that, though, if teachers could integrate life skills into their lesson plans.

Would it have been so hard for our economics teacher to spend a little time talking about taxes or balancing a bank book? (And was it really proving anything to make that budget plan project as painful and unrealistic as possible?)

This responsibility shouldn’t fall to our parents.

Not everyone has the luxury of being raised by one or both parents, and not all parents are equipped to teach us these things anyway.

Our schools are supposed to prepare us for our futures. They already do a pretty good job (I’m being nice), but they could do a little better in the “adulting” department.

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